by Geoffrey Toye, HBM European Correspondent
The GT Flex crossbow is made by U.S. Crossbowyer TenPoint, but they label it “SixPoint” a logo type reserved for bows marketed within the lower end of their price range. Interesting as that may seem, anyone who reads my reviews will know that I recognize and applaud high quality; what is less well known is that I warn companies to take care over what they send me. If they want a good review it had better be a good product. And there, on my doorstep, I see an inexpensive bow from a company famed as the marketer of the Cadillac of crossbows. Inexpensive is a relative term, but the GT Flex is around a third of the price of some.
The box felt light. In it was a crossbow in two main parts, a recurve prod and a mainframe with stock attached, and some bits and pieces.
A striking feature is the fact that fact of the barrel of the bow being in two separated sections with the deck and the lower part (to which the fore-hand is attached) secured only at the latch end, and otherwise free-floating, rather like a giant tuning fork. SixPoint or not, all of the machining and general quality of the engineering were up to normal TenPoint standards and a joy to behold.
There is also a FirstPoint: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! This bow is quick and easy to assemble, but is not quite like others. Done correctly, it is a five minute task; done incorrectly, possibly a five week liquid diet.
The prod is comprised of nicely finished limbs double-fastened by limb-bolts and substantial machined alloy pockets to a riser of visible quality. The riser fits perfectly between the upper and lower sections of the barrel. It can then be slid along to the whichever of three different setting the archer selects and where it is secured by two large machine screws and tow smaller ones, between them both fastening the riser in position, and the upper and lower sections to each other. By this time the tuning-fork has transformed to a very solidly engineered pylon. A conventional machined alloy extrusion stirrup is fitted with a single machine screw, and it is physically possible to fit inverted which could, perhaps, interrupt arrow flight. There is a warning in the instructions.
The plastics stock is of a nice quality, with the main stock and pistol grip in one molding and the fore-hand separate. The trigger guard is a metal pressing. All items fitted nicely to produce a symmetrical construction with perfect transition bet5ween parts. No-one who has examined a TenPoint crossbow will be surprised at this. The GT Flex comes as a basic bow with simple open sight, but the test bow included the optional package of bow quiver, telescopic sight and cocking harness.
The quiver is a nice, considered design formed upon two parallel – what appeared to be carbon – rods. It has a detaching bracket and a neat wire loop which I guess could be use to hang it up. The sight is their standard three-horizontal-reticle telescopic model of a refreshingly modes magnification and with, I think, rather improved light-gathering compared with my personal older sight from that company. A nice sight which fits securely onto the GT Flex’s slightly pre-elevated rail equipped with the Weaver-type transverse grooves to prevent sight movement which might be caused by such contingencies as recoil of vibration. The harness is their AcuDraw 50, a simple two-to-one drawing aid which retracts into neat cases on each side of the stock, rather like a tape-measure retracting into its case.
The notion of three settings for the riser is interesting. At the setting closest to the fore hand (As seen in my photographs), the draw length is very short, with the draw weight only 90lbs at the latch. This is claimed to generate 162ft/sec arrow velocity with a 420 grain arrow; 175ft/sec with a 350 grain arrow. The other settings are rated at 125lb returning 240/*265 ft/sec; and 180lbs returning 270/300 ft/sec. I am not an expert in tournament crossbow archery, and regulations are under review, so you might want to check this for yourself but it certainly appears that in one bow, we have the capability of conforming to current target regulations, adjustability to take in proposed changes regulations and a competent hunting bow for medium quarry. It makes send for a U.S. bowyer to cater for the missive hunting market, especially now, with the opening up of more and more states for crossbow. Compliance with target regulations, the, was unlikely to be the remit for this bow; it was intended as a U.S. manufactured, light bow which could be used by those of less physical stature, perhaps as an introduction to crossbow archer but with adjustability of accommodate differing physiques, various shooting requirements, or the growing bodies of young archers. The design also acknowledges that even in hunting alone there may be differing velocity requirements. For example: Whitetail deer and Wild Turkey. This bow is powerful enough to take the former, but can be adjusted down not to over-penetrate or destroy the meat in the latter. Similarly, a low setting might be used for out-of-season practice on, perhaps, a suitable private range where high power would be an issue.
I set the GT Flex to the lowest setting. At this poundage, the cocking harness worked perfectly, but was hardly necessary. It centered the string, of course, but with the accommodation angle of the side of the alloy deck – a very attractive feature of the TenPoint bows – I found centering the string perfectly accessible just by hand, indexing with the thumbs.
A safety catch engages automatically and there is the standard TenPoint dryfire- inhibitor. Access to place the arrow on the track is gook, sliding it easily under a dampened retainer spring without getting anatomy in potential harms way. Reach to pull is between twelve and thirteen inches.
This is a light bow with mass weight given as only 6lbs 4ozs, one of the lightest on the market; and it comes easily to the shoulder. Hold is effortless and the ambidextrous stock is warm and comfortable. Release went without dream, and the trigger was just fine. Actually, the trigger is TenPoint’s premium grade. At ten yards or so I was getting ragged, single-hole groups shooting off-handed. Usually I spend an extensive period testing bows, including off-hand, but also shooting crossbows over a rest in perfect conditions. Winter weather and a tight deadline on this occasion meant that testing, conducted over a few days and under less than ideal conditions, meant that the ultimate capability of the bow could not be explored. Having said that, I prefer lightweight crossbow (and rifles) and found this bow very easy to shoot standing or in my preferred sitting position and I felt that my own capability was readily accessible.
At maximum draw-length setting, arrows penetrated the bag target convincingly at twenty and thirty yards- the sight seeming to have been barrel-zeroed to twenty-five. Despite a riser built from a pretty substantial billet of alloy, the bow was still not fore-end heavy. I conducted most of the test at the median setting, which was sweet to shoot and returned consistently touching groups at twenty-three yards, shooting repeatedly with the same arrow. The 350 grain arrows were noticeably faster, but velocity seemed entirely adequate with 420 grains. There was no shock that I detected with the lighter arrow. The limbs were fitted with small neat strings dampers which performed their task adequately. An observer reported that the bow was very quiet, although I could hear a faint ringing with each shot, which is typical TenPoint. The bow is in fact fine, but the archer’s ear is right next to the spring mechanism of the cocking harness. Apart from that curious idiosyncrasy, which I recall from the previous testing of TenPoint bows, the harness mechanism is inaudible from a few feet away, and not intrusive when shooting.
The GT Flex is a neat, light weight crossbow from a premier class crossbowyer. Its adjustable draw length has practical uses, and just look for a moment at the quality of the build in the photographs. For the life of me, I cannot see anything about this bow which reflects it lower-end status and that TenPoint – or any other quality crossbowyer for that matter – said it was a higher-end product, they would have fooled me.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the GT Flex is a competent medium-power hitting bow which can, with equal facility, be adjusted to provide a genteel afternoon’s shooting on the range, without the need for a hydraulic ram to pull the arrows out of the target. This bow is nicely engineered, light in the hands and sweet to shoot. It is and must be a personal choice, but I recommend a trip to the pro-shop to check it out and see if you agree with me. Just how good is it the field we shall see when I hand the review over to my good friend Daniel Hendricks for the field report. I will be interested to see the results. Thanks to TenPoint for sending this interesting crossbow.